Giya! Giya! Bathengisa Ngathi

WHEN: 8:00 a.m. (sharp), Wednesday, 14 September 2005

WHERE: Leaving from Kennedy Road Community Hall at 286 Kennedy Road, Clare Estate and ending at Baig’s offices on the corner of Randles and Spark’s Roads in Sydenham.

WHY: To demand land, housing, basic services, democratic development and respect and to give Baig two weeks notice. See the memorandum below for our full demands.

ORGANISERS: The Kennedy Road Development Committee in alliance with other democratic structures in informal settlements on the Clare Estate including Burnwood Road, Foreman Road, Jadhu Place, Lacey Road, Palmiet Road, Puntan’s Hill as well as Sydenham Heights and the Jimmy Carter Housing project in Sherwood.

SUPPORTERS: This march is also supported by, and will include representatives from organisations outside of ward 25 including the Banana City Informal Settlement Area Committee; the Bayview Flats Residents’ Association; the Combined Staff Association (UKZN); Groundwork; the Mandela Park Anti-eviction Campaign (Cape Town); the Right to Work Campaign; the Socialist Students’ Movement (UKZN); eThekweni Eco-peace Party; the eThekweni Social Forum; the Wentworth Development Forum and the Westcliff Flat Residents’ Association.

FOR COMMENT AND FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Jerome Bhengu 0724390843; Ms. Nonhlanhla Mzobe on 0826892606; Ms. Zelda Norris on 0312077575; Mr. Anton Zamisa on 0720327739 or Mr. S’bu Zikode on 0835470474.

On 13 May this year 5 000 people marched on Councilor Yacoob Baig to demand his immediate resignation. Baig’s only public response has been to slander our entirely legal and peaceful exercise of popular democracy as criminal in the May edition of Al Qalam newspaper and again on Radio Al Ansaar on the 5th July. We are told that Baig has issued an instruction that we be denied the promised and paid for installation of electricity as punishment. Even when his seniors in the party instruct Baig to attend meetings with the poor he still refuses. We note that people like Bheki Sibaya have failed to hold Baig to account. We are now wondering if peaceful marches of thousands will always be ignored and what it will take for our suffering to be taken seriously. The poor of Ward 25 have no confidence in Baig and we have no confidence that his superiors will hold him to account. So, now, we will give him two weeks to resign.

We expect at least double the number of people to march on Baig this time. In the two weeks leading up to this march many meetings will be held in each of the communities that have united against Baig. The march on Baig will be the culmination of two weeks of intensive, inclusive and democratic discussion, reflection and action. We are taking our lives and our future into our own hands. We can trust no one else.

Obani bengathinta amabhubhesi?

A Memorandum of Demands
Wednesday, September 14, 2005

We the people of Ward 25, democrats and loyal citizens of the Republic of South Africa, note that this country is rich because of the theft of our land and because of our work in the farms, mines, factories, kitchens and laundries of the rich. We can not and will not continue to suffer the way that we do and so we unite behind the following demands:

For too long our communities have survived in substandard and informal housing, and for too long we have been promised land, only to be betrayed. Therefore, we demand adequate land and housing to live in safety, health and dignity.

Our communities are ravaged by poverty, and we demand that the government create the jobs that we so desperately need. Therefore, we demand the creation of well-paying and dignified jobs.

Those of us in municipal flats find that n addition to providing substandard housing, the council charges rents way in excess of our community’s ability to pay. Therefore, we demand the writing-off of all rental arrears.

The government treats us with contempt, believing that because we are not rich, we have not earned their respect. Therefore, we demand participation in genuinely democratic processes of consultation and citizenship.

Our communities are affected by crime, police racism and serious environmental hazards. Therefore, we demand safe and secure environments in which we can work, play and live.

Many in our communities suffer from illness, and the scourge of HIV/AIDS affects us all. Therefore, we demand well-resourced and staffed health facilities.

Our young people are the future of our community, yet they have very few choices. Therefore, we demand attention to the needs of our communities’ youth. The exclusion of the poor from school and other opportunities for educational must stop.

Those of us in municipal flats find that the council charges unaffordable rates. Therefore, we demand lower rates in municipal flat buildings.

Amongst those of us who are connected to water and electricity many can not afford the costs of these services and face disconnection. Therefore, we demand that these services be made free for the poor.

We are entitled to decent social services in our communities. Therefore we demand these services, including proper sanitation, refuse collection, community gardens for our poor, and support for orphans especially those in child headed households

Furthermore, just as people from around the city and the country are uniting in support of our struggle we express our support for our comrades elsewhere. We have stood with, and will continue to stand with our comrades in Chatsworth, Crossmoor, Marianridge, Merebank , Shallcross and Wentworth in their fight against the Ethekwini Municipality’s attempts to evict them from their municipal flats. We will also continue to stand with the people of South Durban in their struggle against environmental racism; with poor students facing exclusion from technikons and universities and with comrades all over the country fighting for land, housing, work, education, healthcare, safety and democratic development. At this time we note with particular concern the threats directed Fred Wagner of the Eastwood Community Forum in ‘Maritzburg and declare our full support for Fred and for everyone who is persecuted for standing up for the rights of the poor. We also express our full support for t!
he Western Cape Anti-eviction Campaign before their mass rally in Khayelitsha on 17 September. We affirm that their struggle to resist eviction from their homes and to win basic services is just. We stand with them against the repression of their legitimate struggle.

Finally, for his failure to work with his constituents to meet our basic needs, for putting local business interests ahead of those of the poor and for treating the poor and popular democracy with contempt, we therefore demand that Councillor Yacoob Baig, a career-politician with a history of working for apartheid, announce his resignation within two weeks. We further demand that if Baig does not resign we, ourselves, will declare that Ward 25 does not have a councillor.